I can tell when my husband is impressed by a book he’s reading. He reads excerpts to me, discusses ideas from the book at length and gets very passionate about the subject. Bonhoeffer’s biography is one such book, that made quite an impact on him. He even shared some thoughts triggered by the book here. In this blogpost, Igor’s reviewing it for us. Enjoy.
On a cold April morning in 1945 a German Pastor was lead to his execution by soldiers on orders from Hitler himself. An eyewitness later recalled the events of that morning:
Through the half open door in one room of the huts I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer, before taking off his prison grab, kneeling on the floor praying fervently to his God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the steps to the gallows, brave and composed. In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.
This German pastor was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the subject of Eric Metaxas’ book. If you chose to read it, Bonhoeffer’s biography will take you on an inspiring journey through the life and thoughts of this remarkable man of faith.
What amazed me the most about Bonhoeffer was how a man as sophisticated as he was had such a simple faith in God, such clear understanding of the Gospel. He did not just read the Bible, but studied it with daily devotion and he truly believed in the transforming power that it had on human lives.
Here was a man who has grounded himself solely in the Word of God at a time when the Church in Germany chose to walk away from it. Here was a man who believed simply that you had to act on what you claimed to believe even if it costs you.
One of the things that sets him apart was his involvement in the conspiracy to kill Hitler. Bonhoeffer understood that sometimes faith can take you outside of what you would call “normal” Christianity. And what I mean is that a “normal” Christian, especially a Church pastor, could not participate in a conspiracy to kill a country leader. Yet Bonhoeffer understood that Christianity is not a box or a set of rules that a man simply lives by, but rather that your faith is a way of life and it requires you to act on your convictions and stand up for what is right. His conviction was that Hitler had to be stopped. He believed that to not act against Hitler, to not take a stand against the atrocities that he was committing was the unchristian thing to do.
Dietrich was a courageous man who stood up to Hitler and ultimately gave his life for his faith. He smuggled jews, lead illegal underground seminaries and played an important role in the July 20 plot to assassinate Hitler – the one that in the end failed and led to his execution.
If that wasn’t enough, Eric Metaxas dedicates a few chapters to a little known story of Bonhoeffer in love. Three months before his arrest he became engaged to Maria von Wedemeyer. The numerous letters that Dietrich and Maria wrote to each other paint a beautiful picture of their relationship and love for each other.
Weather you are a Christian or not, I encourage you to read Bonhoeffer’s biography by Eric Metaxas. Everyone needs to know his story because it is an inspiring and an amazing one.
Photo Credits: bethanylee on Flickr.